Building relationships is important to all aspects of our lives, both inside and outside of the workplace. The ability to build meaningful relationships with others is important for a variety of reasons, and in today’s environment you cannot just sit back and hope others will simply approach you. You need to be proactive, attend social events, swap contact information, and network to get to where you want to be.
Depending upon your personality type, the types of questions to ask when you first meet someone and wish to build a relationship with them may vary. However, there are a few areas that should be covered in your conversation so that you can have a meaningful discussion and get to know the other person on a deeper level. This recent article by Business Insider highlights some successful networking strategies that include the importance of getting to know the other person and finding common ground.
How do you make the transition from casual chatting to actually building a relationship with someone? Here are five questions to help you get started:
What inspired you to pursue this area of business?
Finding out what inspired someone to pursue a particular area of business provides insight into his or her goals, interests, and passions. Chances are this person is working in their career field because it is what they love or have always wanted to do. Asking this question will help you to take a deeper look into their motivation.
Talking about inspiration in business is becoming more and more common. In fact, LinkedIn has a whole series titled “What Inspires Me” that taps into the motivation that keeps LinkedIn Influencers going. I am very passionate about my business and love talking about how I got started. I enjoy connecting with other individuals who are entrepreneurs and talking about their story as well. It helps to build a common ground between us.
What are your hobbies?
This is a simple, yet important question to ask when getting to know another person. Having information about their hobbies provides insight into their life outside of the office. You might also learn about a shared hobby or connection with your new contact. While it’s important to understand another individual’s work goals and motivations, learning about their personal interests provides an opportunity for relaxed conversation over a topic that they will be willing to open up about. In my experience, I have found that discussing hobbies with another individual is a great way to build a deeper connection with them. Often times you will learn of a shared hobby or skill, and this will create an opportunity for a stronger conversation. In addition to this, some people are lucky enough to turn their hobby into a job.
Did you find someone who enjoys golf as much as you do? Invite them out to play a round of golf and continue the conversation during this time. You never know what this outing may lead to.
What is the biggest challenge you face in business?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the other person’s problems. No matter where you are or what your line of business, you will face challenges both big and small. According to an article in Entrepreneur, growing revenue, hiring employees, and increasing profit are all challenges for businesses, and many entrepreneurs, including myself, agree with this.
Talking about challenges creates common ground in business. For example, the individual you are talking to may have a hard time finding the right employees, and perhaps you have a tip that can help them. Maybe you can provide a solution to their situation or refer them to someone who can help. This teaches that person that you are someone they can trust, which will help them open up to you later.
What is the area of your business that you are focused on expanding?
Often times, the end goal of building relationships in business is to form a mutually beneficial partnership and provide one another with leads, customers, and potential partners. Because of this, understanding the goals of the person you are talking to is critical. What do they want? Who is their target partner? What are their ideas for expanding their business?
I have specific areas of my business and services that I am focused on expanding in both the near future and within the next few years, and I know everyone has something they would like to improve and grow in their career. Every business should have a plan in place for growth – finding out theirs is simply a matter of engaging in a meaningful conversation and getting to the bottom of their long-term goals and desires.
What is the one legacy you would like to leave behind?
This question provides an opportunity for a work connection and personal connection. Asking this question will give you the chance to see what is truly important to the person you are talking to, and I think this is highly necessary for building a successful relationship with someone. No matter who you are or where you are in life, everyone has a legacy that they would like to leave behind. What is yours and how do you plan on achieving it?
These conversation starters will help provide you with information about another person’s desires, motivation, and future goals and will allow you to form a deeper relationship and connection with them. When striking up conversation with the other person and asking questions that build a trusting relationship, it is important to remember not to be distracted. Separate yourself from technology or any other barriers so you can truly be in the moment and get to know the other individual.
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